Really need some help for my son


I feel a little ‘guilty’ posting here, because I seem to be posting so regularly. However, I find advice here really helpful, and I know people here have a very wide range of experience.

This post is about my youngest son, who is 22. He has complex mental health issues, which he has received very little intervention for, possibly due to his tendency not to engage with services.

Currently, my main worry is his eating disorder (bulimia nervosa). He has had disordered eating and a strong focus on his physical form for many years (possibly since he was 13), but this manifested as a full blown eating disorder about three years ago.

He has managed to access some support from our community mental health services. He had an ECG and a blood test which showed weakness in the left side of the heart and hyperthyroidism, both of which are almost certainly caused by his binging, restricting and purging behaviours. He receives an hour of counselling once a fortnight.

However, so far, my son has attended three session, and postponed three. He is waiting for the next session to be arranged. Meanwhile, his ED behaviour is out of control. For example, yesterday evening, I returned from visiting my husband (my son’s father) to find my son in the living room, surrounded by carrier bags full of food. He had spent money that was for a car repair on a binge. On Monday he ate out of the rubbish bag because he had eaten everything in the house. We have problems with the plumbing because he will vomit in the kitchen sink, and we cannot easily dispose of the rubbish created. The binging and vomiting goes on for hours. The exercise goes on for hours if he is having a ‘good’ day,.

However, my greatest worry is his health and the possibility that his ED behaviour may take his life. I feel like I cannot really cope with this behaviour and the mental load of watching him engage in activities that could kill him. Yet, I do not know what to do.

I have asked to speak to his mental health worker, but messages are taken and none returned. I have asked for a care assessment, but because he has capacity and will not engage, the request never goes anywhere.

I work from home, and my son has no employment, refuses to claim benefits and his whole life revolves around exercise and food. His behaviour is making it difficult for me to focus on work. What can I do in a situation like this?


Hi @Janet_1601. I really feel for you, as this is a very scary situation. I’m by no means an expert on eating disorders, but my understanding is that malnutrition can cause weaknesses in the heart, which is basically a muscle. The more severe the damage, the more of a worry it is. If the person uses emetics to help the vomiting along, some of them can cause additional damage.

The authorities will be working on the assumption that your son has mental capacity to make these decisions, as is their legal duty as no one has questioned it. It may be worth asking them to check your son’s mental capacity, as he appears to be locked into an obsessive behaviour that gives him a sense of control, where probably everything else in his life feels out of his control.

One thing I strongly recommend is that if they won’t assess your son’s care needs, they can certainly assess your needs as his carer. The impact of the caring on your health needs to be addressed and they need to understand what is going on. It may actually help them to decide that he needs to be assessed in terms of his mental health: if he’s considered a danger to himself or others, for example.

I can only imagine what you’re going through: and no matter how good my imagination, it won’t come close to understanding it all. Try to take good care of yourself. Is it worth booking a few days’ leave from work so you have one less stress to worry about for a bit? Maybe even take a little time out for a walk in a park or something similar to help stop feeling trapped?

I so feel for you.
Having to witness such self destructive behaviour from your child must be both terrifying and heartbreaking. However, as Charles has said, only you know how this truly feels.
As difficult as it may be, you really do need some space in order to take a break ( so difficult, I know-as even when there is a physical space, the mind still races).
It seems a good idea to request a carers assessment as the impact of what is going on will be “out there” and may impact on how your son’s behaviour is viewed.
Please take care.

Hi @Janet_1601
Sending some :people_hugging: :people_hugging: pls don’t feel ‘guilty’! Connecting and interacting is how we can support each other through each of our unique rollercoasters, of caring.

I agree with the comments from @Charlesh47 and @Jane_22031234567, that you need to make sure you can have time for yourself and recoup energy somehow…easier said than done, as we all know so I’m hoping you have some friends or family to talk live to, if not there are online cuppas, and groups you could connect into.

I’m not an expert nor directly experienced in eating disorders, but I’ve indirect friends who have suffered from it…I mean that I listened whilst my friend described how useless & inept she felt trying to support her friend. She’d reasoned, cajoled but couldn’t find a ‘way to get through’ - and this was a friend, not a family member. As @Charlesh47 said there seems to be an ‘obsessive behavior’ centred around the ability to control, at least something they feel they can control in their lives. I wonder if connecting online to a support group could help your son identify with others, and possibly help him to want, to want help.

Perhaps even if your son doesn’t connect with support groups around eating disorders you can find one for family members/supporters of those with ED? to help YOU, e.g. to hear how others cope/manage/sustain themselves through the difficult times.
heartfelt empathy and best wishes

Thank you for all this support. My son has texted his mental health worker and has an appointment at 4.30 tomorrow

I think I was feeling a bit ‘sore’ this morning because I was a little overwhelmed yesterday, and went to bed in a huff. He has got obsessive tendencies. I am sure that he is neurodivergent, like his father and brother, and that sort of complicates the ED type behaviours, because they become even more embedded. He is very isolated and asocial. He only goes out to the gym and the shops.

I don’t think gyms are the best place for young males with eating disorders. He says he wants to be ‘big’ but he cannot bear to put on weight.


Perhaps it would be good for him to know that muscle actually weighs more than fat.
When I had a trainer ages ago he kept underscoring to me NOT to count calories but to eat ‘right’ with proteins and good fats and I should be putting on weight as it converts to muscle…muscle definition and converting fat means healthy eating…if there’s a good trainer at the gym who discusses nutrition (not just big & pumped muscle!) that could be a good avenue to pursue to channel his energy and focus…I identified my trainer by watching the different ones at the gym and seeing which one was the most ‘humane’ empathetic and not just pushing…perhaps you can ask one of the gym staff


Please take time out for yourself in order to relax. Even if it is only for one whole hour a day that still counts too. Best wishes. There are care homes and good community care schemes as well. Keep us updated. Caring is hard work.

Take a close and careful look at your options online and then either ca or email someone to get access to further information. Make some brief summary notes. You are in my prayers. Get a feel for the whole care company in question- request a tour. Look past the numbers. You can do this.

Hi the charity BEAT are an important resource for eating disorders, if he faints or has chest pains call for urgent medical help.
Sorry things are so hard,
Big hug Ula

Hi Janet, you are in a bit of a pickle, put locks on what you can secure to stopping him hunting for food. I know it sound cruel, but it is part of care to look after him and your self. It might be worth speaking to your gp and maybe the safeguarding team for help as he might need to be somewhere where there are carers on duty to help look after him. It only takes a wrong word and you will be in a mess. If something doesn’t work out with your son mental health social worker, complain about his treatment and you might get something done, contact the carers helpline or citizen advice as they might be able to help you or local MP.

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Thank you for the support and advice. My son had an appointment with his mental health worker yesterday, but there was a mix up about whether it was at home or at the local centre. The meeting has been rearranged for two weeks time. He is struggling a bit today.

I am going to make him an appointment with the GP on Monday and see if we can move things along.

Good luck. You are in my prayers.